false viking treasure

Can you guess what this is? It looks like the contents of an overturned toolbox, with tools, drill bits, screws, bolts and nuts. No. What you are looking at is a Viking treasure – but a false one.

How on earth does a falsehood like this end up in a museum?

In the 1960s, the – then – curator of the Fries Museum acquired it in several instalments from a dealer. It was the fact that the treasure was delivered in instalments – in its entirety 150 items – that made it suspicious. And indeed, it proved too good to be true. The items were probably made by a team of German researchers to serve as teaching material for a study of Germanic history.

Vervalste Vikingschat van Winsum, verworven in de jaren ’60

False Viking treasure from the village of Winsum, acquired in the 1960s. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Amongst the objects on display here, there is an amulet with the image of a hammer, supposedly representing the Viking god Thor’s weapon. There are several miniature hammers, but according to Danish experts they do not at all look like the original Medieval Viking hammers at all, which are thinner, made of silver and have slightly different decorations.